Psychology researcher and educational theorist ALFIE KOHN is in fine form in this vintage talk (ca. 1989). Kohn says that the problem with our culture is not that it is "too competitive." Rather, the scientific research shows that ALL competition is harmful and counterproductive. It leads away from excellence, not towards it. And it's bad for the soul.
So why is competition emphasized in America? Kohn (briefly) discusses how it reinforces existing structures of power in our society.
Don't confuse competition with conflict, Kohn says. Unlike competition, conflict is inevitable and sometimes good. Martin Luther King was right to challenge institutional racism and the power structure behind it. By the same token, trying to eliminate competiton puts the social reformers--yet again--in conflict with our society's power elite and the system they control.
I've condensed Kohn's talk. The full-length original is available here: http://www.radio4all.net/index.php/program/59979 . Thanks to Xenophrenia for making it available.
http://newworldnotes.blogspot.com/ . Permanent link to the entry for this installment: http://newworldnotes.blogspot.com/2012/06/listen-to-or-download-part-one-now.html.